Wine Word of the Week: “Corked”
October 3, 2015 / Stephanie Miskew / 2 Comments
Many wine lovers have heard the term “corked” used in reference to a faulty bottle of wine, but what exactly does the term mean? Below is all you need to know about our latest Wine Word of the Week.
The term “corked” (aka “cork taint”) does not refer to a crumbly cork or cork bits floating in a wine. The term actually refers to a chemical compound, known as TCA or 2, 4, 6-trichloroanisole, which forms when cork tree bark is treated with chlorine compounds during the sterilization process. Corks made from this tainted bark will then proceed to infect and effectively ruin any bottle of wine in which they are used. TCA is also very stubborn and if left unchecked, can proceed to contaminate barrels, cellars and, in some rare instances, entire wineries.
The detection of a corked bottled of wine is also not always entirely straightforward since the presence of TCA can range in intensity. On the mild side, you just might think the bottle of wine you’re enjoying is a little “off,” but at its most potent, aromas of musty basement, wet newspaper and “funk” will assault your olfactory system and overpower any semblance of fruit, spice or other pleasant aroma you were hoping for. If you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your Sommelier or wine retailer to sample the wine in question for confirmation. A corked bottle should always be replaced with either a new bottle of the same wine (which will often be unaffected by taint) or another selection entirely and the customer should NEVER be required to pay for the spoiled bottle of wine. The wine’s distributor will credit the restaurant back the cost of the bad bottle.
So whether it’s a $20 Chardonnay or $500 Bordeaux, the fact is 3-5% of ALL wines with cork closures are tainted by TCA or “corked.” Which begs the question, isn’t there a better method? The screwcap seems to be the logical heir to the cork throne, but despite technological advances which now allow wines to age under screwcap, there is continued resistance for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are tradition and romance. Ironically, I can’t think of anything less romantic then spending hundreds of dollars on a bottle of wine only to find after waiting 20 years to drink it, that it was doomed from the start by its closure, can you?
It will be interesting to see where the technology is ten years from now and if, like the winemakers of Australia and New Zealand who use screwcap closures on approximately 90% of their wines, the rest of the wine world has placed more importance on guaranteeing their customers unspoiled wine over the tradition and romance of a faulty closure method. But who knows, maybe the treatment of cork will have evolved to the point where the occurence of TCA is a mere memory but…only time will tell.
I hope you enjoyed our Wine Word of the Week and to see previous installments please click here. Also, if there’s a wine word you’d like to learn more about please suggest it in the comments section below!
October 3, 2015 / Stephanie Miskew / 2 Comments
Stephanie Miskew thinks life is better with wine and she wants to help you enjoy it to the fullest! As a Certified Sommelier, her real world advice on tasting wine like a pro, discovering which wines you truly love, picking the perfect bottle for any occasion and creating magical food and wine pairings will have you looking like a wine expert in any situation.
If you’re anything like me, the word “clone” immediately conjures a host of 1970’s B-movies featuring body-copying aliens who seek to wreak havoc on the human race. When it comes to grapes, however, that source of many 70’s childhood nightmares couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a GRAPE clone is actually a very good thing! While most plants… Read More
Women in the wine world have made amazing strides in recent decades. Today, they are Sommeliers, winemakers, wine educators and even winery founders and owners and we have many brave and brilliant women to thank who paved the way for us. One of my favorite things about hosting this podcast is highlighting their amazing accomplishments and sharing the secrets of… Read More
The Wine Atelier Podcast #21: Jean-Charles Boisset, Proprietor of 1881 Napa + The Boisset Collection
When I heard that Napa’s FIRST Wine History Museum and Tasting Salon was opening this month I couldn’t wait to find out more! I immediately reached out to its founder, wine industry icon and proprietor of The Boisset Collection, Jean-Charles Boisset and am thrilled to be able to share this interview with you. While the Napa Valley is relatively new… Read More
It’s amazing how time flies. It seems like yesterday I was excitedly announcing our first food and wine group trip to Provence and before you know it, we’ve been back and six months have passed! If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few years, you may know we’ve been spending more time in the South of France. Specifically,… Read More